Monday, November 23, 2015

Small & Simple Saves the Day

An experience came to mind recently, something I believe I’ve shared before, but I sense it’s something I need to touch on once again. Years ago, in the days following my father’s death, my husband & I helped my mother and my younger siblings pack and prepare to move. In the midst of the confusion, a plant that had been in our family for years was stashed inside of an open truck. By the time we arrived at our destination, this poor plant looked like it had been through a war. Its leaves were shredded, and it drooped horribly, but my mother didn’t have the heart to throw it away. Instead, she gave it to me, hoping I could nurse it back to health.

My husband and I lived about two hours away from where the rest of my family would be residing for a while. After we helped get everyone settled, we returned to our home with our infant son. The plant I had been given was placed in a corner and pretty much forgotten.
This plant was at least as old as I was. It had been given to my parents when I was very young. A dracaena palm tree, it tended to grow quite lush and tall. When I inherited the plant, it was shorter from a recent pruning, and in a dilapidated state compliments of the move. It resembled what I felt like on the inside of my heart.

I kept it in a distant corner, where I didn’t have to look at it very often. I watered it when I watered my other plants, but I didn’t give it any special attention. Then one day, an observant friend looked at that plant, and then at me. “Why aren’t you giving that plant a chance to access any light?” she asked. Though I had given it water, no light could shine on its leaves, the very thing that would help it thrive. It had tried to survive, but now it was dying—the leaves had yellowed, and I wasn’t sure I could save it.That’s when it dawned on me that I had been secretly hoping the reminder of my dad’s demise would fade away. I felt a bit ashamed of myself. Had I been wallowing in self-pity so much that I was neglecting things of importance? 

Struck by the symbolism of that small tree, I pulled it out of the corner and trimmed off the dead leaves. I found a new place for it in the bright sunshine and gave it the attention it required. Within a couple of weeks, it began showing new signs of life and started to flourish. Giving it the nourishment it needed gave it the strength to survive its traumatic ordeal. I was so touched by all of this that I wrote a poem about it:

It was kept in a darkened corner
Where light and warmth could not penetrate
A reminder of all that had gone before
Slowly, green faded into yellow
Then brown
At times it was pruned
But nurturing was limited
Gradually it slipped into partiality
Until one day
A chance beam of light
Dared glimmer on the withered leaves
Struggling through a forest of night
Reaching through leaves, stem, and decaying roots
It had been forgotten--this beacon from the past
Stored for a time
When strength could absorb
The offering of light
Awakening joy--pain--happiness--and sorrow
New life passing from roots to stem to leaves
Rebirth from the darkened past
Brought it forth into light
Where brown embraced yellow
Then green
Leaves reaching now beyond the rooted pain
Of mortal existence
Toward the hope of light
And truth
Green with the knowledge
Of warmer days.
Cheri J. Crane

As you may have guessed, this small tree was symbolic of the healing journey I endured following my father’s suicide. It still exists, taller now than it has been in years. It is a reminder  that despite the heartaches of this life, we can go forward and flourish, with the right nourishment. It is indeed those small and simple things that help us to endure challenging days: prayer, studying the scriptures, church and temple attendance, all of those items that nurture our spirit. When we neglect those things, we tend to wither. And currently, we live in a time when we each need to be as strong as we can possibly be as the adversary steps up his assault on all that is good. We can survive anything, as long as the gospel light shines within our hearts. It is that light that gives us the hope to face each day, knowing it will all be worth it in the end.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Review of Jennie's New Book

Julie Bellon reviewed my new book By The  River for Meridian Magazine today.  I thought I would share it with all of you:
Jennie Hansen fans have been anxiously awaiting her new release and By the River does not disappoint. Kira Paxton is a woman small of stature, but big in heart. She wants to fall in love, be independent from her smothering family, and live a full life. All of those dreams are set on a collision course, however, after she makes the grisly discovery of a young woman’s body near her running trail. 
Her screams bring Ford Kettering to the scene of the crime and from that moment on he tries to help Kira heal from her horrifying experience. She could fall in love with him, but when the young victim’s identity is released, Ford is listed as a person of interest because he was her high school teacher.  The budding relationship between Ford and Kira is a strong pull throughout the story, and readers will enjoy experiencing it with them through all the ups and downs.  Readers will also relate to Kira’s family problems as she tries to transition from the role of sheltered daughter to independent woman and the difficulties that come along with that.  When Kira’s condo is vandalized and an attempt is made on her life, she clings to independence, but also allows those around her to help keep her safe. From all appearances, Kira has become a loose end to the killer and, despite everyone’s best efforts, he is drawing closer. She will have to use all her wits to stay alive through this story that has more twists than a switchback road with hairpin turns at every corner.
By the River has all the shivers and thrills you’d expect from a Jennie Hansen suspense novel.  The reader is kept guessing until the very end who the killer is and if Kira will survive not only physically, but emotionally. Ford is a relatable character, fighting for his own innocence and for what he might have with Kira. He definitely lives up to the slogan, “Ford Tough.” The other “character” that is a standout is Jasper the dog. Jasper is a scene-stealer who will win your heart with his fondness for shoes, canals, and mischief of any kind, but who also proves dogs can be a man–or woman’s–best friend. This is a quick read because readers will not be able to put it down–and you’ll never look at running trails quite the same way again.
Jennie is an accomplished writer with over two dozen published novels to her name.  She writes in several different genres including romantic suspense, mystery, historical, and western and most of her titles can be found in LDS bookstores or on Kindle. 
By the River by Jennie Hansen published by Covenant Communications, softcover, $14.99, available on Kindle $10.49
Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels. Julie offers writing and publishing tips as well as her take on life on her blog You can also find out about all her upcoming projects at her website

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

So Much To Be Grateful For!

At the beginning of the year in my journal I entered something that I was grateful for that day. I never had to stop and think what my blessing had been - there were usually so many that I could record several.

In September I found a lump in my breast and was immediately rush through mammograms, biopsies, ultrasounds and ultimately surgery to remove the offending tumor. I was grateful I found it. I was grateful they removed it so quickly. I am grateful they were able to remove it all. I am everlastingly grateful it had not spread to my lymph nodes!

And I am so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers I've had. I know they have been a major blessing to me through this. I have been calm and felt peace through the whole experience and as I have decided against chemo which my oncologist recommended, (though bless his heart he did not insist!!) and also against the pill - the magic bullet that was supposed to seek out and destroy any mutated cells that could turn cancerous. I feel I can pump up my immune system and let good food and other things I'm doing take care of those nasty little maverick cells.

My prognosis was a 35% chance of recurring cancer in 5-10 years if I don't have chemo and the pill. By the same token - I have a 66% chance of not having cancer recur. I choose to continue feeling really good and improve my diet and health so keep feeling this good. My husband wanted me to have the chemo - he wanted to have me around as long as he is here. But he admitted that he would not have chemo if they found cancer in him. (Double standard here??) :) 

I'm so grateful for the information everyone is sharing as to what they have done and what works for them. I'm grateful there are many out there that believe as I do - that chemo can kill every bit as soon as cancer! And it sounds to me as if it is more painful than the cancer itself!

I'm grateful for every day that I have been given on this earth and especially for a loving supportive family. And I'm grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who hears and answers prayers. Does it get better than that??